Writer/director/producer Cristian Comeagă has been previously honored as producer of the
ambitious film “The Rest is Silence”, which was Romania’s Oscar® contender in 2008. It also received the Gopo Award for Best Romanian Film and
Cristian Comeagă was named Producer of the Year.
The lead actor, Bogdan Stanoevici, a well-known actor in both his native Romania and his adopted motherland, France, was made Deputy Minister of Culture
for Romania just after this film was completed. His costar, the gorgeous Laura Cosoi is one of the country’s leading actresses and as well as a recognized
chef. In addition, she has just married Cosmin Curticapean, the associate producer of the film.
Romania has a long history as a filmmaking country and its recent award winning films has brought the film world’s attention to films that are made in that
This one is a political thriller told in a very brightly colored world about Romania’s bleakest days under the dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu, before and after
the 1989 Romanian anti-communist uprising. Its tone is odd, leading you to believe it might be a comedy. “The Chosen One” (“Cel Ales”)
plays in a non-linear
way with the layered storyline gradually revealing itself. It is a careful blend of art and entertainment.
A young student, bound for success as a model citizen who also likes jokes like most teenagers, is tripped up by one joke that he plays on the Party Leader
which gets him in front of the comrade who becomes the designer, planner and destroyer of his life. As a messenger of the “Comrades’ Fellowship” he offers
to help the boy flee to the “free world” instead of expelling him from high school. This leads to the next thirty years of his life.
To squeeze that many years into two hours leaves “no place for commonplace … no time for time-consuming waiting and no room for insignificant gestures and
lines” says the director Cristian Comeaga. And therein lie the odd quality of this interesting story.
The film is truly an indie. It was shot in 37 days, in 56 locations across Romania, France and Belgium. True to form for indies, due to financial
difficulties, shooting took more than a year (May 2012 to June 2013), while visual effects and post-production added another 15 months to the schedule.
Cristian Comeagă took no pay for the five jobs he had on the film – writer, director, producer, production designer and costume designer. “Yes, I must
admit it didn’t leave me much time for sleep,” he says. He had even less sleep as he worked as a line producer on commercials and television productions,
just to keep the bills paid. He also traded camera lenses and tennis rackets on eBay.
“The Chosen One” was a success in its Romanian release on April 24, 2015. During the first screening, half of the audience was government officials who
liked it although it was different from most Romanian films. The first public screenings were attended by older people who remembered the times. Younger
people then heard about the film and wanted to see what the past reality was. After the house lights went on, the audience did not move. But as they
exited, they discussed the film trying to figure it out points in the story. And some tried to stop the film’s screening.
Cristian said that a movie does not exist until the audience has seen it.
While in L.A. for the Golden Globe and private trade screening, actors Laura Cosoi and Bogdan Stanoevici and I had a breakfast interview in which the
actors’ lives seemed almost as surreal as the lives of the characters in the film.
Bogdan Stanoevici, who plays Mr. X, has his own life experiences remarkably similar to at least part of his character’s journey. In Romania he had an
established career as an actor but was kindly informed in 1989 that he really should leave the country as his outspoken ways were not gaining him friends
in the government. He escaped from Communist Romania in its waning days and made a life for himself in France. He didn’t return to his homeland until
shortly before filming started on “The Chosen One”. Unlike Mr. X his life’s decisions were his own.
He had not seen Cristian Comeaga in 29 years but received a letter from him saying he wanted one actor who could play all ages from age 20 to 60 years. As
a producer, Cristian knew he was right that only Bogdan could play the role and he promised him a beautiful, easy to work with partner (Laura Coisi).
Bogdan had seen Laura from TV. Laura, who was born in 1982 knew him from a 1986 film called “Blue Sled” made before he had left Romania. The film had been
very successful for the youth audience as there was no idealogy in it, something very rare in Romania. But in her 12 years in the industry she had never
She wanted to rehearse for the film but Cristian said no. He wanted Laura to meet Bogdan for the first time on the set; he felt that the freshness of the
relationship was more true to life and he knew the instincts of both actors and that there would be a chemistry between them. He knew exactly what the
characters would be like. He knew Nora so well that her suggestions were not even taken. It was difficult to work like that for Laura, but it was good in
that the film worked so well and she learned so much in the course of making it.
Cristian said that he identified most with her role of Nora. He played all the characters on the set it and was amusing to see him playing Nora.
With Bogdan, he counted on his experience. Bogan had spent ten years in Romania, beginning his theater career in 1979 after finishing secondary school in
’77, going into the army in ’78 and university in ’78. By 1989 he had made 18 movies and in ten of them he played the lead role.
He has the ability to disappear into the character he is portraying. In “The Chosen One” he plays just one person over a period of 30 years and
does it so well (with the aid of makeup, of course) that it is hard to believe that it is the same actor throughout.
How he got to France
Bogdan was well known enough but he was not allowed to travel. He was well paid (thought not rich like U.S. actors); he had perks. The party leaders kept
trying to get him into the system and he refused. He was not a party member which was his way to be free. They advised him that it would be better for him
to find a way to leave the country and his family. He met a French girl and got married and the country’s leaders were happy to get rid of him.
Bogdan was almost 30 and yet he needed his parents’ approval to emigrate. However instead of the usual three year wait, it took him only six months to get
an exit visa.
He was married for seven years. “Everything in Romania was on a five year plan, and the Romanian Way of Living is To Find a Solution. Everyone in Romania
does this, and so I gave myself five years to get into the system in France. I said that if in the first year I was not shooting something (being an extra
was not acceptable) then I must think of something else to do. I will be an actor and will not accept anything less than three days of shooting.” And so he
found a TV show and he found an agent and casting directors, although nine out of ten would not open the door for him. “This is the Romanian style. You
must meet people. If the door is locked, you must find a window.”
Bogdan says he did well enough in France though not on the same level as in Romania and his dream was to get to Hollywood. He is equally at home in France,
where he has appeared in almost 30 movies and television programs, some of them American/French co-productions. He speaks English and French fluently and
can get by in Italian, Russian and Bulgarian.
His American films include “Counterstrike” (1995), “Highlander” (1997) and “Quick Sand” (2000). But he feels that this film “The Chosen One” is his first
step into the real U.S. He needs the film to be seen so that he can get roles.
Laura Cosoi on the other hand became an actress by chance. Laura Cosoi is a multi-talented actress, dancer, blogger and author. Though this is her first
lead role for a feature film she is a successful television and theater actress. Her acting career actually started at the Cannes Film Festival when the
2001 short “Calatorie la Ora” took second place in the “Cinefondation” category at the 2004 festival. She appeared in a number of other short
films, including the lead role in “Un Film Simplu”.
She was a professional ballroom dancer (which is actually an Olympic sport!). She trained as a social worker. But 12 years ago she visited a studio where
they were shooting a Hallmark TV movie called “James the First”. She went with a talent agent who was a friend of her mother’s and who had a modeling
school. As she waited for the agent, a man approached her and said in British, “You’re so pretty, do you want to play in my movie?” She didn’t understand
but said yes and she went for a fitting. Her friend called asking where she was. The TV producer heard about her and wanted her as well, so on the same day
she chose the TV sitcom. “James was not a success and the rest is history.”
Twelve years later, she has been in lots of sitcoms, TV series and telenovelas. She never had a goal; it all just happened. She loves casting auditions and
that alone is enough. She said, “Now I’m just an actress, but when I have time, I love to cook for my friends”.
When she does interviews, she is always asked how she keeps in shape; they ask her about food and fitness, and so she wrote a book so they won’t keep
asking. It’s a very personal project. Will You Stay for Dinner has been translated into eight languages (but not yet English) and won the
international Gourmand Cook Book Award, the most important prize in the cook book industry started 20 years ago by Eduard Cointreau. She won the prize to
participate in this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair and in China where the awards for Gourmand were held this year, she won the prize for “Best TV Chef
Laura has many personalities and she wants to explore them all, from Nora in “The Chosen One” to cooking…she loves to express different personalities. It
is like therapy. It opens doors and she is surprised to see what she can do.
This movie was made out of passion. It is one of the few Romanian films made on a low budget with large teams struggling to complete it. They are happy to
show it outside of Romania. The film is a slice of life about which we have heard much but seen very rarely and never understood. It is a lesson in history
about Romania and a whole system that could and does unfortunately happen everywhere in the world. Very few people know outside what Romania is like. It is
more than “Dracula”. The public’s appreciation of this film is key to its success and both Bogdan and Laura hope it will be distributed and seen widely.